NEET-UG exam row: Grace marks given to 1,563 candidates withdrawn, Centre tells SC

Amid a raging row over the NEET-UG examination, the Centre told the Supreme Court on Thursday it has cancelled the grace marks given to 1,563 candidates who took the examination for admission to MBBS and other such courses.
Representative image
Representative image
Supreme Court
Supreme Court

New Delhi | Amid a raging row over the NEET-UG examination, the Centre told the Supreme Court on Thursday it has cancelled the grace marks given to 1,563 candidates who took the examination for admission to MBBS and other such courses. They will have the option to either take a re-test or forgo the compensatory marks awarded to them for loss of time.

Refusing to stall the counselling for NEET-UG, 2024, scheduled to commence from July 6, the top court made it clear that the admission of successful candidates to medical colleges and other institutions will be subject to the outcome of the petitions which have sought reliefs like cancellation of the examination held on May 5 on grounds of question paper leak and other malpractices.

A vacation bench of justices Vikram Nath and Sandeep Mehta termed as "fairly reasonable" the decision to cancel the grace marks awarded to 1,563 candidates on the recommendation of a panel set up to look into the grievances voiced by the petitioners. The National Testing Agency (NTA) conducts the all India pre-medical entrance test.

At the outset, lawyer Kanu Agarwal, appearing for the Centre and the NTA, said the committee set up to look into the grievances decided on June 12 to "allay the fears of the students". It was of the view that the grace marks be withdrawn and replaced with an option of re-test for these candidates which will be conducted on June 23. A notification to this effect will be issued during the day.

He said the committee was of the view that the award of grace marks on grounds of loss of time while taking the test resulted in a "skewed situation" as it had to be limited only to the questions that remained un-attempted.

After examining all aspects, the panel concluded that it would be appropriate to recommend cancellation of scorecards of these beneficiary candidates.

"According to the recommendations, it has been suggested that the score-cards of the affected 1563 candidates issued on June 4, 2024 will stand cancelled and withdrawn. These affected 1563 candidates will be informed of their actual scores without compensatory marks. Further, re-examination will be conducted for the affected 1563 candidates.

"The results of the affected candidates who do not wish to appear for the re-examination will be declared on their actual marks without compensation obtained by them in the examination held on May 5, 2024 and the marks obtained by the candidates who will appear in the retest will be considered and their marks based on the examination held on May 5, 2024 will be discarded," the bench noted in the order.

The results of the re-test will be declared on June 30 and the counselling for admissions to MBBS, BDS, and other courses will start on July 6, the Centre said.

Lawyer J Sai Deepak, appearing for Alakh Pandey, the chief executive of EdTech firm ‘Physics Wallah', assailed the random award of grace marks and said the option of re-test be given to all those students who could not approach the court alleging loss of time.

The bench declined the plea saying that it cannot expand the scope of the case to those who had not approached the court.

The bench issued notices to the Centre and the NTA on three petitions and tagged them with the pending pleas. It said they all will be taken up together on July 8 after the summer vacation.

Pandey has assailed the alleged random award of grace marks to over 1,500 candidates and urged the top court to set up an expert panel under its supervision to "enquire into the examination process and results of NEET (UG) 2024.” He has, in his plea filed through lawyer Rohit Jain, the managing partner of law firm ‘Singhania & Co', also sought a direction to the expert panel he has mooted "to come up with improvement in the process of conducting NEET examination and without hampering the interest of the other students".

Another petition filed by Abdullah Mohammed Faiz and Dr. Shaik Roshan Mohiddin sought recall of the NEET-UG 2024 results and conduct of a fresh exam over allegations of paper leak and other malpractices.

The third plea, filed by NEET-UG aspirant Jaripiti Kartheek challenged the award of grace marks as compensation for alleged loss of time during the exam.

The examination was held on May 5 across 4,750 centres and around 24 lakh candidates took it. The results were expected to be declared on June 14 but were announced on June 4, apparently because the evaluation of the answer sheets got completed earlier.

The allegations have led to protests in several cities and filing of cases in seven high courts as also the Supreme Court. Scores of students protested in Delhi on June 10 seeking a probe into alleged irregularities.

As many as 67 students scored a perfect 720, unprecedented in the NTA's history, with six from a centre in Haryana's Faridabad figuring in the list, raising suspicions about irregularities. It has been alleged that grace marks contributed to 67 students sharing the top rank.

The NEET-UG examination is conducted by the NTA for admissions to MBBS, BDS, AYUSH and other related courses in government and private institutions across the country.

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